Thanks, Optimus Prime: What the Transformers Can Teach Us About Plot


I am writing a science-fiction trilogy and I’d like it to have general appeal to kids and teens. So, recently, I went to see the new Transformers 4: Age of Extinction to see what I could learn. Here’s one of the official movie trailers. If you can’t see this video, click here. Transformer’s Major Plot […]

What Went Wrong? Story Conflict and How to Make it Stronger

This marine is in jeopardy!

In your story or novel, something must go wrong. Without conflict, there is no story. As you develop a plot, it’s helpful to think about what is the worst thing that could happen and then figure out if you can make that even worse? The absolute worst thing–the thing your character fears most of all–MUST […]

Chase: A Fast-Paced Plot

Car Chase

My current WIP novel has a subplot of a chase, which is one of the 29 possible plot templates. Chase Plots are pretty straight forward. There’s a person chasing and a person being chased, the Chaser and the Victim. It’s an action plot, not a character plot (though always, character should be as strong as […]

Master Plot for Pacing, Characterization and Action

Where would you insert a 3-chapter, self-contained subplot that is mostly an action sequence?

Somewhere in your writer’s head is a Master Plot, an idea of what a story or novel should be like, how it should progress. For writers who don’t outline–the write-by-the-seat-of-their-pants writers–the Master Plot is hard-wired into their brains. For the rest of us, the idea of a Master Plot is helpful. Hero’s Journey. The hero’s […]

2 Questions to Develop Plot: What If? and What Next?


While I am struggling with plot, the main question I am asking is “What if?”, closely followed by “What next?” What if? Creative plots focus on an unexpected combination of events that somehow manage to mesh together at the end when all is revealed. Plots can be about vengeance, catastrophe, love & hate, chase, grief […]

Novel Pacing=Constant Change


Finishing up the series on plot: We’ve talked about the outline level of plot, plotting with scenes and now we’re at a finer granular level as we talk about pacing of a novel. Pacing Helps Plot Succeed Nick Lowe, in his article, The Well-Tempered Plot Device, criticizes many well-loved fantasy novels because of their use […]

10 Checkpoints for Scenes

Do NOT Pass Go Until You've Passed this Check List

Does your Scene Pass this Checklist? Where/When. (Setting) Did you orient the reader at the beginning of the scene? Does the reader know where this takes place: room in house, city, state, country, etc? Does the reader know when this takes place: time of day, season of year, place within chronology of story? If the […]